Artist – Letters of Transit
Album / Label – Theme And Variation / Unsigned
Rating – 7.25 / 10
Last August, I had the chance to review Letters of Transit’s debut EP, The Endless Search for Something New. The band had only started playing shows a few months prior and I was impressed with their ability to put everything together for a four-song effort. Fast-forward one year and the band has come together again to release their newest EP, Theme and Variation.
In the interim, the band has been playing shows around Ohio to hone their craft. Their reach has taken on global proportions, as their debut EP was heavily featured on Banks Radio Australia’s internet rock radio station. They ended up finishing as the runner up for EP of the year and finished sixth in a fan vote for favorite indie artist of the year, ahead of acts like Blue Helix, Bobaflex and Motion Device.
The core quartet of singer/guitarist Jack Storey, guitarist JC Young, bassist Donny Phillips and drummer Aaron Spencer remain the same, and the band again called upon legendary producer Joe Viers to take the helm for the new record.
The EP opens with the first single released, A Decade In. All four gentlemen harmoniously show that they’re ready to rock your face again, and Storey again shows his songwriting licks, claiming “27 feels like yesterday, 37 feels so far away” and “I’m relatively new to the whole damn thing; when whiskey is absent, I can’t think.” It’s a slower number that chugs forward with Storey and Young’s guitars punching your face.
Need You More feels like a ballad that could’ve been written by Stone Temple Pilots, or one of their 90’s contemporaries. You can feel Storey’s pain as he wails along, sounding like a cross between Austin Winkler (Hinder) and Johnny Stevens (Highly Suspect). The song is a step back from the tracks on either side of it, but definitely shows a more heartfelt side that the band hadn’t previously showcased.
The unquestioned killer track from the EP is A Well Balanced Riot, with Young’s soaring opening chords leading the way before the rest of the band starts rocking and Spencer pummels at his kit. The opening is reminiscent to something Coheed and Cambria might throw at you, minus the bravado of Claudio Sanchez. Storey himself is a capable frontman just the same, and his gruff voice helps give the song a little more of a bristled, ass-kicking feel. You’ll probably want to hit repeat on that one, even if it is just to listen to Young’s golden licks.
The band turns almost towards a pop-punk feel on The Conversation Pt 1 – Older Now. You can feel the lament and anguish in Storey’s voice when he croons “and I hate the fact that I’m older now than you’ll ever be. I can’t go back, I can’t move on; where am I supposed to be?” You also finally get a healthy dose of Phillips’ bass on this track, although I can tell you from seeing the boys live that he is definitely a major player and shaping their sound.
The Conversation Pt 2 – Defender almost feels like the band is trying to call forth the spirits of Rise Against, with a lyric like “there’s a wisdom, a simple truth self-evident in life. As long as we keep trying, we don’t have to get this right.” It’s a quick track that doesn’t leave anything behind and again makes you want to go over it one more time to make sure you didn’t miss it.
The EP finishes with Take It Back, a heavier number that relies on Spencer’s drums to drive it forward. The band’s three guitarists are often playing along with each other throughout the disc, which I don’t believe to be a fault, but I think they’re handcuffing their own specific technical abilities in doing either. Either way, it creates a tight, rocking sound and rounds out the six pack quite nicely.
Lyrically, the album is top notch. Storey has apparently lived one hell of a life, and lives on to tell the tale to the world. Musically, there is a little more polish on this disc, and you can see where the quartet grew together. I spoke with several people at their EP release show last month, and the response from the local populace has been mostly positive.
I still feel a lot of untapped potential between the four of them, but I don’t think that they are doing anything wrong. Plus, they keep heads nodding when they perform live, and to me that’s a hallmark for a great rock and roll act.
- A Decade In
- Need You More
- A Well Balanced Riot
- The Conversation Pt 1 – Older Now
- The Conversation Pt 2 – Defender
- Take It Back